interviewed by Calum Donoghue, 11 April 2015
Flowers are not just for girls, promise. After recently launching a collection of bouquets, each inspired by a type of modern day man, Marylebone based florist, Jamie Aston, took some time to chat to QH...
Since opening your own shop what is the biggest lesson you have learned?
To expect the unexpected. Honestly, the old adage 'you should never judge a book by its cover' couldn't 'be more true. Our staff treat all customers with the same high level of customer service and attention to detail because the man in the scruffy coat on the old bike could be about to spend thousands of pounds on flowers for his partner. And that treating people with a bit of humanity goes a long way.
You have worked in New York and Japan, how does floristry differ internationally? And has your travelling influenced your work today?
Travel is a passion of mine personally and also for my work. I love picking up the creative vibes from my time abroad and use a lot of what I see to influence what I do here in the UK. The Asian market is very fashion led, but actually quite girly and feminine too - very pretty arrangements tend to work best there. The New York market is much more cutting edge and fierce in design - more structural, sculptural. I would have to say it, as this is my home, but the UK market is maybe the most exciting currently. Our customers seem to have no fear about fitting in and are much more eclectic in their tastes.
Your shop is a mix of old and modern, how important is it to keep the balance of both within your work?
It very much depends on what you are doing. For something like a wedding, a civil ceremony or another huge family based event, you must remember that these are pictures that you will be looking at for years and years and years to come - so we guide our clients towards keeping a touch of the classic in their event, so that the style doesn't date. For parties and one off events, however, we love it when a client comes to us and says they don't care what we do, just make it spectacular. Now that's the sort of brief we love! We've turfed whole pods on the London Eye for one client, filled an entire room with hanging crystals and strings of flowers for another and commissioned the most enormous ice sculptures for a third, with flowers imbedded in the ice.
Any tips on how our male readers can introduce flowers to their homes?
Keep it simple. You can't go very wrong with a phalaenopsis plant as a starting point. Get a beautiful two to three stem plant, pop it in a contemporary ceramic or glass container, put it in a light and airy (but not draughty) place and basically ignore it. An icecubes worth of water once a week and that's all you need to do. Pick off the dead flowers and once all flowers have bloomed, you can either cut it back to encourage it to flower again, or, to be honest, they are such good value these days, most people tend to throw them away and start again. Alternatively, just grab a few different sized glass containers and get whatever is the seasonal best from your local florist - tulips, hyacinth, anemones are gorgeous right now - and pop them in. The joy of using seasonal flowers in a mixture of containers is no one is expecting it to look 'arranged' - it's a natural look you are going for. But mostly, enjoy flowers. They give so much pleasure in both their scent and their appearance.
How does a man decide what flowers to buy as a gift?
Top tip - talk to your florist. Our team are primed and ready to advise on the best bouquet to say 'sorry', 'I love you', 'oops'. And don't worry, we are pretty unshockable!
Do you have a favourite flower?
I love hellebore
Do you get many men attending your flower school?
Some. Mainly men who are looking for a career change rather than men doing the courses 'for fun'. They come with a very sensible, serious attitude to it and we have never had an unsuccessful one. All have gone on to open their own businesses.